Casa Grande, AZ

PCSO deputies foil purported human smuggling attempt in Casa Grande

Jeremy Beren
The smoke-filled "Chevy Avalanche-style truck" after deputies disabled it using spiked, teflon-coated Stop Sticks.Courtesy of Pinal County Sheriff's Office

By Jeremy Beren / NewsBreak Pinal County, AZ

(Casa Grande, Ariz.) — Pinal County Sheriff's Office deputies believe they stopped a human smuggling effort on Thursday, along the Interstate 10 in Casa Grande.

In a 96-second video posted on the PCSO's official Facebook page, Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb took viewers through the evening's events, calling the incident "a crazy one." According to Lamb, his deputies attempted to pull over a vehicle on I-10, but the driver refused to yield and instead sped off.

"A pursuit ensued, we pursued the vehicle, we eventually had to use Stop Sticks to stop it," Lamb said. "It came to a stop on the side of the freeway, and people bailed out of the vehicle, which means they shot out, three of them."

Once its tires were deflated, the vehicle rolled off the interstate and onto the shoulder. There, the brush on the side of the freeway caught fire, leading deputies to make another discovery in the vehicle.

"The truck, a Chevy Avalanche-style truck, had a locked bed cover," Lamb explained. "We started hearing screaming and yelling coming from in there. Deputies realized there were people inside that locked bed of the truck."

Lamb theorized that the people locked in the truck bed kicked out the cover with enough force to free themselves.

"Luckily, nobody was hurt, but it could have been a lot worse," Lamb said. "Those subjects were turned over to Border Patrol, as they were here illegally. The driver was arrested for failing to yield to law enforcement."

Pinal County is a human smuggling hotspot due to its proximity to the Mexican border. Pinal houses two interstate freeways — I-10 as well as Interstate 8 — and Casa Grande is roughly 150 miles from Nogales, located directly on the border in the state of Sonora.

The PCSO's 2020 annual report acknowledged "a noticeable increase in narcotics and human trafficking" throughout Pinal County, in addition to "an increase in pursuits and failure to yield to law enforcement." One of the PCSO's strategic goals for 2021 was to "combat the increase in narcotics and human trafficking flowing through Pinal County."

"This is something we're dealing with every day," Lamb said. "These are the effects of human trafficking and drug trafficking into America."

The PCSO had no new information to offer when NewsBreak reached out for comment on Monday.

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Jeremy is a freelance journalist covering health, energy, labor, and local politics. Reach him at

Phoenix, AZ

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